Tags: Thyroid Disorders | congenital | hypothyroidism | newborn | baby

Congenital Hypothyroidism: What to Do When Your Newborn Baby Has It

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Jun 2016 05:18 PM

Congenital hypothyroidism is an underactive or partially missing thyroid gland at birth. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and its function is to produce thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and many bodily functions.

The British Thyroid Foundation explains that very early in fetal development, the thyroid gland moves from the back of the tongue to its normal location in the neck. Sometimes, this movement doesn’t happen as it should or even at all. The thyroid gland may not fully develop in these cases and cannot function properly.

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In most cases of congenital hypothyroidism, the cause is not known and it has not been scientifically tied to anything done during pregnancy. There is no known way to prevent this condition.

In the U.S., all newborn babies are screened for congenital hypothyroidism, says the National Institutes of Health Genetics Home Reference. Some affected babies may not show obvious symptoms but some will have difficulty feeding, be less active, sleep more than normal, or experience constipation.

If left untreated, the condition can cause developmental delays, stunted growth, and intellectual disabilities.

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If your baby is diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism, your pediatrician will work with a pediatric endocrinologist to manage the condition. Treatment involves drugs that replace thyroid hormone, and these drugs are regarded as very safe.

If treatment begins right away, most if not all of the long-term potential effects can be avoided, says Screening, Technology, and Research in Genetics (STAR-G). However, if treatment is delayed, mental retardation is likely to occur.

Untreated babies are more likely to develop an unsteady gait, be much shorter than usual, and have behavior problems. Damage that occurs in the brain or the nervous system due to delays in treatment are not reversible.

Once treatment with thyroid replacement drugs for congenital hypothyroidism begins, it must continue for life, says the British Thyroid Foundation. Fortunately, synthetic hormone drugs are widely available and are easy to take. With them, your child has an excellent chance of living a normal, healthy life.

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Congenital hypothyroidism is an underactive or partially missing thyroid gland at birth. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and its function is to produce thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and many bodily functions.
congenital, hypothyroidism, newborn, baby
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2016-18-01
Wednesday, 01 Jun 2016 05:18 PM
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